Seismic shifts are reshaping the global financial environment, pushing executive course providers to update their syllabi and launch new programs for those working in the financial services industry, and in the corporate finance function. Many of the shifts are driven by technology that enables more efficient and effective execution of traditional financial functions.
At the same time, systemic risk and volatility, climate change and ESG, pandemic shocks and most recently, economic sanctions over Russia’s assault on Ukraine are also having a profound impact on finance professionals. Many are turning to business schools, which put on executive courses, to retool and upgrade their knowledge.
NYU Stern School of Business, in New York, is offering a new, forward-thinking modular executive education course, called “Frontiers of Finance”, which helps tackle some of these issues. The program features topical modules presented over a period of four weeks.
The program’s Academic Director, Professor Emeritus of Finance Ingo Walter, says: “Many finance professionals are a mile deep and a foot wide. They tend to have concentrated, relatively specialized expertise. If they want to extend their bandwidth in pursuit of career growth, they need to train to be decathletes – to develop the ability to respond to a variety of challenges from multiple angles.”
Executive education is helping finance professionals to meet these challenges, by exposing them to the most recent developments, research and approaches. “Executive education also brings diverse participants into the classroom to share experience and expertise around financial topics. We find that students appreciate not only the knowledge shared by faculty, but also fellow classmates,” says Brandon Kirby, senior director of admissions at Rotterdam School of Management, in the Netherlands.
The school’s “Sustainable Finance” program teaches participants how finance can be used to increase businesses’ contribution to a sustainable economy, as well as how companies and financial institutions can adapt to a more sustainable economic model.
Participants will also learn about the practical tools needed to implement sustainable investing and lending within their organization. “No more than ever, finance professionals need an accurate crystal ball to understand where market, credit and consumer trends are going," Kirby says. "There is increased pressure from consumers and shareholders to take an approach to positively managing ESG issues through finance in an honest and more importantly, transparent way."
Those working in the finance industry or the finance function in companies are already familiar with financial tools; they often need to acquire broader skill sets and develop their strategic thinking capabilities. On Insead’s wide range of executive courses in finance, those with a financial background gain a strategic perspective, and learn about operations, marketing, and leadership.
The business school with campuses in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi runs several courses on finance but the flagship course is named “Finance for Executives”. “The first part of the course addresses topics such as different liquidity and profitability measures and how certain measures are more reliable than others,” says Lily Fang, Professor of Finance at Insead.
“We then talk about firm growth and distinguish between good growth versus bad growth. Finally, we learn about valuation approaches -- how to determine, for example, the purchase price of a take-over target? Through this discussion, participants understand fundamental value drivers in businesses, and how finance should be integrated with operations and strategy in order to create value.”
Freshest Industry Knowledge
The executive courses in finance at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management in Germany combine the latest academic research with the freshest industry knowledge. “I see our lecturers as coaches and moderators who challenge the group to find sustainable and individual solutions for complex problems,” says Christian Schaetzlein, Deputy Head of Executive Education.
“We focus on the fact that participants should be able to apply what they have learned as soon as they are back in their offices,” he adds. “It should impact them personally and their company’s success in a positive way.”
Most of the Frankfurt School’s courses deal with traditional banking topics. But the focus is increasingly shifting towards ESG, digital transformation and interest rate change – while still covering banking regulation. Whereas in the past few years regulation has dominated the agenda of bankers, Schaetzlein says Covid and the war in Ukraine have changed the game.
“The pandemic has [had] a huge impact on the digital transformation of banking business models and internal processes. Scarce resources, supply chain disruption, skyrocketing prices and jumping interest rates pushed macroeconomic and operational problems into the management focus of banks.”
In addition, Schaetzlein says an increasingly ESG-oriented economy will create new tasks and challenges for banks and their customers, for example driven by the EU Taxonomy -- a classification system established to clarify which investments are environmentally sustainable. Demand for executive courses that can help the finance industry navigate these seismic shifts seems certain to rise.